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The Edge in Amsterdam, long considered the smartest building in the world, has become the first to be accredited with a platinum award from the organization, Smart Building Certification. With integrated systems, every aspect of a building can potentially be controlled to maximize its performance, reduce energy consumption, and provide the most comfortable conditions for its inhabitants. By adding access controls, fire detection and systems for communication, responsive systems technology is increasingly being used to improve levels of security within facilities. Enhanced with a digital twin, a copy of the building and its operational systems in digital form, building integration allows safety engineers to improve the management of emergencies such as fire and intrusion, or prevent them occurring in the first place. Building systems are complex and interdependent, however, and learning to manage them effectively can improve efficiency in a range of areas, including security.

Integrated Monitoring And Security Systems
As the management of smart buildings becomes increasingly automated, integrating security solutions with other systems can improve the handling of emergency management in the case of intrusion, fire or evacuation. As well linking surveillance cameras, sensors and alarms, smart cards can improve security by using authentication for accessing IT networks and other equipment. Connecting systems can also be used to monitor this equipment. By tagging equipment in completed buildings, and the machinery used while they are still under construction, organizations can keep track of valuable assets. Identifying tags can be scanned by a security system to reveal information about the item, confirm its whereabouts, and ultimately uphold safety standards.

Smart Buildings Vulnerable To Cyber Attack
As well as monitoring individual pieces of equipment, in a smart building, systems connect devices and software that control the functions of the building. These are complex systems that rely on open technology communicating through wireless networks using different protocols. Engineers have fewer options for segregating networks with firewalls and other isolation techniques than they would with regular networks such as Industrial Control Systems. This is because smart buildings are more directly linked to these networks. This can leave them, and the organizations and companies within them, vulnerable to cyber attack, as the technology offers a weak entry point for access.

The Use Of Digital Twins To Improve Security
As a defence against unanticipated occurrences such as cyber attack, the digital twin of a building is becoming increasingly useful. Data is collected from several sources throughout the building, and is used to compile a digital copy of the structure and systems within it. While it also incorporates historic data, a digital twin can be used to look at past occurrences within the building, and so predict potential emergency events that could create security issues in the future. By seeing how a building might react to an unforeseen situation, building operators and managers can model the building’s future behavior and prepare systems to deal efficiently with any emergency.

The integrated systems of a smart building can allow safety managers and engineers greater control of both physical and cyber security. This allows them to create an automated approach to managing any type of threat to safety. 

This article was authored and contributed by Jackie Edwards. Now working as a writer, Jackie Edwards started her career in Environmental Health in the Public Sector, but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities and also has a strong interest in ecology, wildlife and conservation.

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